Early Winter Blog


Several People have been chasing me lately for my next blog. Well here it is! True, it’s been a bit late coming! I have been finishing a couple of articles for other publications, so sorry.

It has been a funny season so far, which I put down to the unusual hot weather over the summer keeping water temperatures very high especially when the reservoirs opened. This I think didn’t do the pike much favours, and unfortunately I saw quite a few go belly up to anglers who over handled them. Personally, rather than a Pike season start date that is set in stone I’d like to see one that is linked to water temperature, as we all know that water at 18 – 20 degrees isn’t the ideal conditions to be fishing for pike, from a fish welfare point of view. I appreciate that fisheries need to make money, but I would expect a loss vs gain calculation to come into the decision making at some point. Yes you might get a lot of keen anglers at the start, but if half of the pike die after capture then you probably have a 7 – 10 year wait for replacements to come through which will have a knock on effect on anglers in the next few seasons. It seems obvious to me that later starts are needed if water temperatures continue to remain at that level in future years.


Anyway I digress, after a “mixed” start to my fishing season, I’ve conversely probably had one of my best pike seasons so far and to be honest I’ve hardly been out. More out of choice than opportunity. This year I have gone when I felt “the urge” which for me means – when all the conditions look optimal. Usually I would go hell to leather, continually out there until, by December, I fish myself out. Most of these days (when fishing on big fish waters) it would ultimately be blanks, and blanks wear you down. Where, if I do one or two days at the right time in the right conditions I usually catch something. This year I finally had my “Mammoth pike”, and a couple of weeks later my first brace of 30 pounders. Which has taken the pike “monkey” off my back for a bit, but more of those captures another time.

So after catching some slimy pike, I really wanted to get back on the river and after some big zeds. I hadn’t been out since the hot weather in June! The hot weather really effected the river system, the high temperatures and the low flows create abysmal conditions for predator fishing. The whole of the area is officially still in drought status as I write. However, with tidal rivers there are always periods of greater flow (every couple of weeks), and it was during these I tried to concentrate on.

The lower river can be a funny place, I’ve come to the conclusion that the fish move around a lot, certainly a lot more than further up. Usually with zander if you catch one, there will be several more in the nearby region, though down here it doesn’t seem to be like that, you get one, then nothing and have to move spots. I think this may be because the river is wider and generally has less features then further up so the fish move about more, or it could just be that’s what they do on tidal water? Who knows?


I tend to lure fish as much as possible for two reasons, firstly it’s a good way of searching the water and secondly it a really effective way of catching zander! However, when the fish are moving about a lot sometimes it’s easier, or maybe just as effective, to sit and wait with a bait out instead. I think it is important not to be tunnel versioned when it comes to certain methods and to copy a phrase it’s important to “ring the changes” when need be.

While I was out I noticed quite a few bank anglers deadbaiting on a certain stretch which was unusual – and this peaked my interest as it wasn’t an area that I usually would have fished. What peaked my interest even more was that one of them caught a good zander as I went by! Now that was bad timing!

Looking at the sonar the whole area was flat and devoid of fish (like most areas on most rivers) but there were obviously some zander around somewhere, so I anchored up on the other side a flicked a couple of baits out for the sit and wait approach. After a couple of hours with just one knock on the rod, I put another couple of Baitbox roach out and set about tidying the boat up as it was in a state with mud and leaf all over it from the tree I had tied up to.


Then whack! The upstream rod twanged around and then went slack, a typical zander bite when using these upstream tactics. I wound down and connected with the fish which was clearly a good one as it was keeping parallel to the boat, fighting against the flow. After a few minutes I had finally got it tamed and at the side of the boat ready for netting. A respectable double by the look of it so I was quite happy. Obviously there were some fish in this area and I was quite expecting another one. I gave it until dark but unfortunately that was the only bite.

Zed Severn

I’ve been itching to get back out since, but alas the conditions have conspired against me. On top of that have just had my winter pike bait order, and I am now in the unfortunate situation of having a freezer full of bait but no where to go!


As I write this it is furiously raining and blowing a gale outside, so that will most likely be the river written off for the next couple of weeks! That is the problem with fishing at this time of year, as the waters rapidly cool down in the lakes and reservoirs it can turn the fish off until the temperature stabilises at Winter temperatures. It can be good on the river in Winter as they don’t suffer from this phenomenon to the same degree but the weather can conspire against us at this time of year, with flooding and debris in the rivers making conditions harsh. Roll on January with colder, but hopefully more settled conditions and some exciting reservoir fishing!